Tuesday, December 30, 2014


The darkest emotions lie buried deep in the human soul, awakened by twisted desires.
In these eleven tales of dark suspense, sometimes there’s truth to the warning, “Be careful what you wish for…”
1. If necessary, I can write a story on a tight deadline.

My first non-academic experience in writing under deadline came when I wrote feature articles and reviews for local publications.  Later, when the publisher/editor of the Ten Tales anthologies invited me to contribute stories, I learned I could come up with ideas within a specific time frame, but I also had to learn to prioritize.

2. That I can format my book for Kindle and CreateSpace, and that linking the TOC to individual stories was easier than I thought.

It takes patience and time, but it’s not impossible. If I had any questions, I researched until I found what I needed. I’ve also gotten in the habit of using CTRL-Enter for a new page instead of using the Return key.

3. An autopsied body decomposes faster even if it’s been embalmed.

I learned other interesting trivia about decomposition, including the pros and cons of sealed vs. unsealed or wood vs. metal caskets. (On a side note, I keep leaning toward cremation.)

4. It’s always good to have stories written, even if they’re half completed, in case one needs material.

I keep a file of story ideas and have a number of flash fiction pieces, as well as half-finished stories. This helps when I need to come up with a story, which I had to do to make the 40,000-word count for Malice and Mayhem. Having multiple projects also helps stave off writer’s block.

5. It may take a while, but seeing your story collection in print will happen. It just takes patience, perseverance, and maybe even an innate sense of timing.

Malice and Mayhem is a story collection I’ve wanted to publish for a few years now. I had planned to submit it to a local publisher, but finally decided to self-publish the collection so I could retain control over the material.
About the Author
Pamela Turner drinks too much coffee, and wishes she could write perfect first drafts. Influenced by shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, and Twilight Zone, she writes paranormal suspense. Publications include the short novels Death Sword, a finalist in the Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Blue Ribbon Paranormal Awards 2013, Exterminating Angel (both from Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Press imprint), and The Ripper’s Daughter (BlackWyrm Publishing). Her short, dark suspense story, “Family Tradition” (MuseItUp Publishing), was a finalist in the EPIC 2014 EBook Awards, and her short screenplay “Cemetery” placed second in The Writers Place Short/Teleplay screenplay competition. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and a supporting member of HWA. Besides coffee, she likes cats, cemeteries, and old abandoned buildings. You can find her at http://pamelaturner.net    
Malice and Mayhem links
Other Pamela Turner media links
Twitter @PamelaTurner

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Captain Jacob Billet
Journal Entry - Sunday April 5, 2026
It’s raining, it’s pouring, the undead are roaring…
Amassed at the UCRA east end enclosure, the dead strain the fence line while soldiers keep watchful eyes, the survivors on the opposite side of the rising river about to lose their minds.
It’s a crazy time: nonstop precipitation; everyone's up in arms; paranoid city council members with an asshat City Treasurer. Water, water everywhere. Zees dropping into the churning drink. Troops afraid of being stitched up and thrown back into the fray as Zombie Troopers. Tank commanders getting itchy to head out on their own after drug-laden shamblers. Reganshire insurgents trying to extract our west side civvies for some unknown reason, possibly pushing the city into taking heavy-handed action against them.
Then there’s some black-haired dead dude staring at me through the fence, grinning like he’s off his meds.
And I thought Lettner was a headache.
All this sh*t might give me a heart attack.
1. TRANSPORT (Book One) takes place in September 2025, in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan, 12 years after a viral pandemic has changed life...and unlife...as we know it. To protect and help rebuild some of the larger grottos of humanity "post apocalypse," the military has been restructured and dispersed to remaining large metropolis like Grand Rapids. The series is centered around Captain Jake Billet, his wily crew and their massive M213 Heavy Transport Vehicle, the HURON.
Where does HUNT FOR THE FALLEN...well...fall in the scheme of things?
Crazed author: HUNT takes place about 7 months AFTER the events in Book One. Billet and crew are back in the West Michigan area after avoiding the place for a while. The covert mission details of the late NSC High Commissioner William Lettner have gotten out to the media, the mission and those involved is not longer a secret, and Billet, the GRCC (Grand Rapids Central Command) and Grand Rapids are seen as both heroes and villians.
Though Captain Billet is seen as more a hero for doing what he did to bring Lettner to justice, he doesn't like that kind of spotlight. He wants to keep his head low.
And with loyalists of the Lettner out and about, still pushing for the eradication of Zombiekind, causing whatever kind of annoyance to people who do not think in those terms, as the man seen responsible for delivering Lettner to his execution, it might be a good idea for Billet to keep his head low.
Oh, and it is April 2026, and has been raining nonstop for weeks. The Grand River, running between the big city and the area where her local undead are retained, is heading to major flood stages.
2. What's introduced in HUNT FOR THE FALLEN?

Insane writer: We see more of the GRCC, namely in another big military vehicle and its commander, a Abrams MBT (Main Battle Tank), the DEVASTATOR, and its TC (Tank Commander) Major Jeremy Pike.

We are introduced to the illegal drug trade of the times where you can buy any mind altering chemical you want, just have you handheld tracking device and search for the dead creature with your substance of choice sown into its empty abdominal cavity.

We get to peek inside the workings of the Butterworth Test Facility where mortally wounded soldiers are stitched up and brought back into service as ZiTs, Zombie Troopers.

The HURON has gotten an upgrade: a 25mm remote-controlled cannon and turret AND a new navigator who may not survive their latest excursion.

Oh, and Billet is feeling severely under the weather, both psychologically and physically, which may not bode well for his future functionality.

3. Would you classify the TRANSPORT Series as a Military Thriller or a Zombie Horror fest? L. Andrew Cooper, one of the reviewers for TRANSPORT Boon One, expressed it more as "zombie fantasy."

Twitchy Word Scribe: I would probably call it a nice mash-up of both, with leanings more towards Military Thriller and/or Action-Adventure.

TRANSPORT was always intended to be a story about the soldier and his/her armored vehicle dealing with the "new" world around him/her, about how they cope and maneuver in what I call this POST-post zombie apocalypse world the series takes place within. The zombies are there, in the background, shambling and lurking, while it seems the real menace is Humankind who struggles to get back on their feet...and pursuing it any way possible, often times not for the good of others.

Perhaps it should be called a Survival story wrapped in Zombie Fantasy sticky paper.

4. How long did it take you to write HUNT FOR THE FALLEN? Do you consider yourself a diligent and focused writer?

Non-diligent, non-focused writer: I started writing HUNT FOR THE FALLEN roughly May 2013 and, with a poppin' re-write I decided to do, capped it off June 2014.

The thing with TRANSPORT, I have a fairly good idea of where I want each book to go. It is easy to write, an easy map to follow, when you have a good idea of the route. In this way, I guess you could say I am a focused writer.

Diligent? No. Where TRANSPORT Book One was very easy to write because everything just flowed, Book Two sometimes slogged along for me writing-wise like the torrential rain and soggy lands within Book two's landscape. Book One hit me so hard and fast, Book Two was like OH SHIT, UMM, NOW WHAT?

Thus the re-write, self-re-polishing of HUNT FOR THE FALLEN after the initial writing. I feel the re-writing made Book Two really stand up on its own, shift into overdrive, and spin a big rooster of mud, action and zombie guts into the air. It POPS, enough so that when my editor (Rodney Carlstrom) got his hands on it finally, he said (in a good way): WOW!

5. What's the deal with the book covers? They seem to link together. And is the cover art and interior art done by the same artist?

Happy-as-a-clam author when seeing cover and interior art: I was very fortunate when my publisher, Seventh Star Press, hooked me up with Jason C Conley. I gave him the gist of the series, what it was all about, what I slightly foresaw on the covers, and next thing I know he does this FAN-EFFIN-TASTIC triptych cover montage that hit the thing wa-ay out of the ball park. The colors, the atmosphere, the pandemonium within the frames... Jason killed it in the best way possible.

The triptych cover pieces, all together, make a kick ass 24 x 36 poster.

Seventh Star Press typically works with one cover artist and interior artist who are one in the same. Again, I got extremely lucky to work with a separate cover artist and separate interior artist.

The very talented Tim Holtrop did the black and white interior illustrations. This was definitely a one-on-one work relationship where we dialed things in and, mainly, got great illos of Billet and his crew, and a few key scenes, fleshed out. I wanted to make sure the reader had good imagery of the main story characters, in some form of action pose, to bring them (the characters) to life.

Like Jason hitting it out of the ball park on the covers, Tim made another home run, crushing the ball over the stadium roof and miles above the city with his fantastic interior illustrations. (Again, kick ass poster quality work.)

6. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Unstable author: No problem. I'm Batman.


HUNT FOR THE FALLEN: TRANSPORT Book Two is available currently in all ebook formats via all prominent online booksellers. The paperback will be available very soon.

TRANSPORT Book One is available in ebook and paperback formats at all booksellers. Ask for it by name and author, or go here to purchase:


Friday, December 19, 2014


From the editors of Dark Faith, Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, comes a collection of 
supernatural crime noir.

You think you're safe. What a joke.

You don't think about the places you pass every day.
 The side streets. The alleys.
 The underbridges.
 All you'd have to do is take a step to the side.

Then you'd know.

The streets are filled with shadows.


I have known Maurice for quite a long time, more through email correspondence back in the day, and then actually meeting the fine gent this last September at IMAGINARIUM 2014 in Louisville Kentucky. Maurice was always friendly across the wires, and meeting him in person, and sitting in on a few author panels listening to what he had to say on topics about Steampunk (his work in the genre would be called SteamFUNK) and other literary tidbits, all I can say is Mr. Broaddus is a fine and talented human being through and through.

I hear Mr. Broaddus had a piece in ASIMOV DIGEST February 2014. How cool is that?! Way cool!

PJW Dec 2014


1. Know where to begin.  

I remember being in a workshop led by Mort Castle.  I’ll never forget how after reading my story he said “That’s some good writing, but you know that your story doesn’t begin until page three, right?”  It was a tough lesson to learn, but I am reminded often of that lesson often in the slush pile.

2. I’ve seen that before.  

Sometimes it was the story, sometimes the characters, sometimes the setup.  I want a new experience, a fresh take, something I haven’t seen before.  Something only that writer could have written.

3. Bring “you” to the party.  

Most story ideas have been done, so in a lot of ways what differentiates the story is your particular voice.  Your authorial voice is what you bring to the party:  your worldview, your style, your sense of characterization and storytelling.  If anyone could have written it, it will read like a generic story.  I want to be able to pick a story out of a lineup.

4. Cut, cut, cut.

Yes, we’re paid by the word, but make sure they are good words.  Each. Word.  Counts.  Extra scenes, extra paragraphs, extra words, extra anything … if they don’t add to the story, get rid of them.  Keep the story as tight as possible.

5. Stick the landing.
I read a lot of stories that opened great and showed great promise throughout.  It was at that magical ¾ point that I found myself praying “please stick the landing.”  There’s nothing more disappointing than investing your time and energy into a story only to get to the end and go “That’s it?”  End well.

Author Bio

You have to go here and see what this talented individual is about: Mr. Broaddus's full bio. Trust me, you'll enjoy it.

Streets of Shadows (Alliteration Ink Press)

Maurice Broaddus and I at IMAGINARIUM 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CROSSINGS Book Two of JL Mulvihill's Steel Roots Series

This cover is so awesome I just had to post it up here.
And I am sure the contents written by the very talented J L Mulvihill are awesome also.

Tommy Hancock's Words of Great Wisdom

I read this on FB today. And though Tommy was mentioning the passing a friend and fellow author Jason Kahn, Tommy's words struck home on how we should live life to the fullest, and those with the creative inspiration bug should do what we do every day while we're here.

If you have a creative talent, it should be shared, not squandered, not kept under a bushel basket. You should take the time when you can to let it flow.

My prayers go out to all those who are grieving the loss of Jason Kahn. But in the sadness, he brings inspiration and blesses us forever in the words Tommy states:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Writing is a Curse…Sometimes

By Peter Welmerink, Mr. Procrastinator

I consider myself a write. Not necessary a good writer. Not a good writer mainly because I often don’t drill down and sit down and get the job as I should. I have projects and a million story ideas, but I am my own worst enemy when it comes to plopping myself down and putting words on page.

Now it is not a worry that when I do sit down I won’t be able to CREATE, to write, to vomit words upon the blank page. No, it is not that. I have been writing for many many many years, and being (thankfully) published for many compared to the many-many-many of actually writing.

So what holds me back from buckling down and getting the job done. Geesh! How many short stories and novels would I potentially have out in the public’s hands if I actually had sat down and banged out words consistently, constantly, in a timely manner?

I try not to think about it because I think it would be totally depressing and counterproductive to my writer’s work continuity.

Yeah, yeah. I am a regular job. I have a wife and kids, have a day job, have aging parents I continuously keep tabs on. I do like to get out there and breathe, stick my face out into the cool fresh air and take a breath.

And within all those important items and peoples and activities above, I know there is time to write, to create.

I get up during the week at roughly 530am. Pull the dishes from the dishwasher. Get the coffee going for my wife and I. Put a pan on with water to make my typical oatmeal breakfast. Pet the cats, crack a window open so they can be tormented by the rabbits outside in the front bushes.

But then why don’t I sit down, and hammer down, hooking up the box cars loaded with stories on the word train?

Do I fear getting going and where the story will take me? Afraid to get the characters within moving, get the plot line moving again, getting the whole thing rolling again? Do I fear I will write it, get the whole thing done and then be stymied by what to do next…even when I know there are ideas aplenty to splash across the blank open page?

Thing is, I get excited about the concept of sitting down and continuing the story, but then sit down and suddenly it is like I am stuck in cement.

How does one get over this? How does one plop into cement but then bust out and GET TO IT?

Simple. Really. Just like the Nike motto. JUST DO IT.

Like anything in life, like an item in the house your wife wants fixed and has been hounding you for a while to get done, you just need to JUST DO IT.

Just sit your ass down, open that file, put fingers to keyboard and start writing. Or if you a writing that first draft on ye olde wood pulp paper, just grab that pen or pencil, put the writing end to paper and JUST DO IT.

Like getting that task done the wife has been on you about, and when you do it (or at least try your best to get it done and then the damn faucet still leaks), you WILL feel accomplishment and contentness (not a word. Whatever.) that you JUST DID IT and DID SOMETHING.

I try to target at least 350 words a day. Not much. Not what Stephen King suggests, but you know what? It is something. And something is better than nothing and it still is progressing that story in your head and getting it that one step closer to completion.

Sit down and write. Just do it.

Things Learned By The Editors and Organizers of GIFTS OF THE MAGI: A SPECULATIVE HOLIDAY COLLECTION

I met Chris Garrison, John Allen and RJ Sullivan in person at IMAGINARIUM 2014. Three fine gents who were immediately friendly and outgoing to a fellow writer new to not only writer conventions but to the joint publisher we work with.

When I heard they had put a collection of short stories together and were donating proceeds to charity, it was obvious to me they needed some space to talk about this undertaking and great anthology of very talented writers and authors.--PJW Dec 2014


SFG Publishing, a newly formed publishing label of the Indianapolis based Speculative Fiction Guild, is proud to present its first-ever release: a holiday anthology with all proceeds benefitting Indy Reads, a not-for-profit organization that provides tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults.

Gifts of the Magi:a Speculative Holiday Collection gathers original fiction assembled by editors and SFG members John F. Allen, E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan.

The editors made a list of up-and-coming new voices that they loved to read, checked it twice, and started inviting. Most authors offered an immediate and enthusiastic "yes", and contributed some amazing stories, all new and written especially for this collection.

In most cases, the editors received stories set within an author's series universe. Readers of fan favorite series can return to familiar settings and characters, such as the Coyote Series by Chantal Noordeloos and the Clockwork Republics tales by Katina French. NYT and USA Today Bestseller Debra Holland also revisited the fantasy world of her Gods' Dream Trilogy, and the anthology's editors each contributed a new story from their ongoing series.



RJS = RJ Sullivan
ECG = E. Chris Garrison
JFA = John F. Allen

1. How did this anthology come about? When was the idea born? Why?

RJS: For years I've been making "Blue Christmas" puns every holiday on my Facebook wall, the pun coming from the blue-haired punk girl protagonist of my paranormal thriller series. Originally I thought I'd do an original ebook short story titled "Blue Christmas" available for holidays this year. Then I thought I'd pitch it to Seventh Star Press as an in-house collection.

SSP was enthusiastic but they could not make room for it with the relatively short notice I'd given them. Understandable, but that meant waiting until 2015 and I'm not that patient. In the meantime, Chris and John were on board and drafting stories. Chris has a great deal of layout and organizational  talent and knows how to make software behave. John has the art skills you desperately need for a project like this. The three of us are local to Indy and are founding members of the Speculative Fiction Guild, a local writer support group. The three of us had collaborated at many levels--conventions, marketing, support, etc. So I knew we would work well together. We formalized the partnership over a conversation, divided up the duties, and it seems like overnight, we were off and running.

2. If this was a CLOSED or SELECTED AUTHOR SUBMISSION piece, how did you pick the writers for the anthology?

RJS: Speculative Fiction Guild (SFG) member Matthew Barron had the connections with Indy Reads, and SFG had held an event there a year ago. So we had a charity to support. After that, we just thought of authors we knew, liked, and knew well enough to approach. We gave priority to authors who had ongoing series, and by keeping it invitation only, we had no rejections and no slush pile--just a few rewrites. We filled 15 slots very quickly, and the high quality in many cases is stunning.

RJS: I think what I learned....or rather, what was confirmed for me, is that there is more than one way around a problem, and not to give up the first time you hear the word no. I had envisioned GofM as one thing, and when I found out that couldn't happen, I could have just accepted it. But instead I looked at other options, my own resources, and the friendship I'd formed with Chris and John, and I suspected, I hoped, we had the talent between us to get it done ourselves. So I didn't accept the "no" I was first handed, and instead found another way to get it done. Quite possibly, we made something as good or better than the original idea.

JFA: Coming together to produce Gifts of the Magi was a HUGE learning experience for me. It showed me how much is necessary to produce self published material and how to do it effectively. The collaborative efforts involved were inspiring to say the least. I couldn't have asked for a better group of fellows to work with and awesomely talented authors to contribute. 
ECG: Putting together Gifts of the Magi showed me that communication at the beginning saves a lot of trouble, and fixing things later takes a lot of time. I think by communicating the goals for the anthology early on, we got a great set of submissions from the invited authors that have an alchemical synergy that makes the book have something for everyone, and better than we could have planned. On the flip side, formatting is a LOT more work than I expected, especially if authors are left to their own devices in formatting. The work of making the whole look homogenous and clean while combining the different stories took arranging and massaging the text into a common form that would have been simpler had we specified what we needed for submissions in the beginning. It was a learning experience, and a valuable one. I'm quite proud of the result, both in content and form.

Stories for Christmas--authors for the New Year!

Find within this magical tome 14 NEW original holiday-themed stories of fantasy, horror and science fiction by a talented group of authors--plus one holiday essay. The tales from our Magi vary from the light and satirical to the dark and serious, and we've shuffled the deck to keep you guessing.

In "Unraveled" by A.D. Roland, a time guardian may have to choose between preserving reality or destroying the man she loves.

In "Freezy the Snow Demon" by Scott M. Sandridge. A snowman comes to life, but he's not a happy soul.

In "How Krampus Saved Christmas" by S.R. Roddey. Santa makes a terrible bargain in order to save Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, a furious fairy princess attacks a double-decker bus in E. Chris Garrison's "Christmas Special".

Two secret agents attend an exclusive Christmas party with an unusual price of admission in "A Quantum of Solstice" by J.P. Bastin.

In "The Dead of Night" by David Jobe. Soldiers in the midst of the zombie apocalypse try to find the Christmas spirit.

A boy and his father confront an alien creature on..."The Longest Night" by Matthew Barron.

In "An Ivory Christmas" by John F. Allen, a mercenary packing magical pistols battles a monster while Christmas shopping for her werewolf boyfriend.

Steampunk detectives find themselves fending off Christmas "elves" in "The Curious Case of the Cobbler's Christmas" by Katina French

Humans exiled to an alternate world blend alien and human holiday traditions in "A Season of Renewal" by Debra Holland.

A banished prince with a magic chicken finds a nearly drowned soldier--so says the storyteller in "The Warmth of Midwinter" by Marian Allen.

In "An Outlandish Christmas" by Chantal Noordeloos. Bounty hunter Coyote searches for a rogue elf.

A traumatized punk girl confronts the spirits from the worst night of her life in "Blue Christmas" by R.J. Sullivan.

In a dystopian future, Christmas is outlawed, as told in "This Thing Called Christmas" by Herika R. Raymer.

...And Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Nicole Cushing reveals the holiday specials that she feels deserve "Lumps of Coal."

100% of all proceeds from this book benefit Indy Reads.

Gifts of the Magi: a Speculative Holiday Collection will be sold at Indy Reads Books, with ebook and paperback available online at Amazon. 


Indy Reads is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide basic literacy tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults. . "Our mission is to promote and improve the literacy of adults and families in Central Indiana. We believe that everyone should have an opportunity to learn to read, and our goal is to make Indianapolis 100% literate. Our programs include one-on-one tutoring, small group sessions, English as a Second Language instruction, and 'Literacy Labs' at neighborhood centers." Indy Reads operates a bookstore in downtown Indianapolis. Learn more at www.Indy Reads.org.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Leaping at Thorns: Fifteen Impalements Penned by Andrew Cooper arranges 15 of L. Andrew Cooper's experimental short horror stories into a "triptych" of themes--complicity, entrapment, and conspiracy--elements that run throughout the collection.

The stories span from the emotionally-centered and violence-mild "Last Move," about a mother and son whose cross-country move might be complicated by a haunted U-Move truck, to the almost unthinkably horrific "Charlie Mirren and His Mother," also about a mother and son, but their lives take a turn that might be traumatic for readers as well. While "Worm Would" offers a psychosexual fantasia on the sheer grossness that is a flatworm, "Tapestry" uses absurd, sometimes comic violence to take Jessica, the young professional protagonist, into a political nightmare. The absurd reaches dark extremes in "Lachrymosa," a story of almost pure hallucination, and stretches back toward the comic in the brain-and-tongue-twister "Heart on a Stick." The 'conspiracy' panel of the triptych, from "The Fate of Doctor Fincher" to "The Special One," is a series of standalone stories that each adds important details to the fictional world and grand scheme of Dr. Allen Fincher, who also lurks in the background of Cooper's novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines.


Leaping at Thorns (BlackWyrm, 2014), collects 15 unpublished horror short stories that originated in moments throughout my adult life so far—the first draft of the oldest story in the book I wrote when I was 19. Until published, and sometimes even after, I continued to revise, edit, tinker… so the stories, as well as the book as a whole, have almost twenty years of development. To discuss what I learned over that time period (which includes my entire post-secondary education and career as a professor first of English literature, then of writing and communication, now of film and digital media) would tax the patience of a tax attorney. So, below, I've focused on a few things I've picked up during the final phase, getting the book out to the world.

1. It’s okay to be a sick son of a bitch.

My publisher presented me with a certificate granting me the honorific status of “Sick Son of a Bitch” for having written and published Leaping at Thorns, which is indeed a brutal and sick collection of tales. I am genuinely proud of this certificate, prouder of it than most of the honors I’ve been lucky enough to receive in my life. First, I’m proud because it means I’ve found a niche and a community where the stuff I’ve been producing my whole life—with no idea, until a few years ago, if I’d ever really publish my fiction—is not only tolerable but actually exciting because it’s sick. And while I don’t think my publisher had this dimension of sickness in mind when he created the certificate (he’s far too kind and sensitive), the truth is, the nasty edge of many of these stories comes straight from my own history of clinical depression and possibly much deeper (untreated but resolved) mental illness issues that arose in my early twenties. My writing really comes from two places—dealing with sickness in my head, something we all have to one degree or another, and dealing with sickness in the world. I abhor violence anywhere but in fiction, but in my fiction, the violence really ought to put people in messed up states of mind. The book isn’t for kids, but for adults, this experience can be profound and productive, or so I’ve heard—and so it’s okay that this particular sick son of a bitch named L. Andrew Cooper is providing it.

2. For writers who refuse to follow trends, short story collections are awesome.

While I’m hoping for more reviews (the book has only been out for a month), most reviews and interviews related to Leaping at Thorns so far have pointed out that many of the stories, which I label as “experimental,” carry a significant “WTF” factor. I don’t really believe in realism, and I think editors who insist on rational character motivation and conventional narrative resolution tend to take a lot of the horror out of horror—few things are more horrific than phenomena that frighten us but defy logical explanation. Some of my stories, therefore, don’t fit into mainstream magazines and such that demand for authors to provide readers with more conventional experiences of stories with easy-to-follow characters and beginnings, middles, and ends. For my genre, horror, I’m also risky in avoiding pre-sold character types. Don’t get me wrong—I love me some good zombie, vampire, werewolf, and ghost stories, and some of the creatures that show up in my stories are arguably variants on these monstrous archetypes—but nothing in Leaping at Thorns speaks directly to these pre-existing horror markets. So again, one of these stories by itself is a homeless oddball. But with 14 friends, each story in the collection has a context where the absence of the more familiar trappings of contemporary horror is a unifying factor. The stories work better in a collection because the collection creates trends within itself.

3. Present-day me and years-ago me are different people.

I revised and edited all the stories in Leaping at Thorns in the months prior to publication, so they’ve all been filtered by my present-day brain, which belongs to a publishing author who thinks about things like audience accessibility—i.e., I think about the fact that readers might benefit from some WTF but at least need to have something to hold on to while they read. However, the me that first drafted many of these stories, particularly the oldest stories in the collection, didn’t give much thought to audience because he wasn’t thinking about publication. My 19-year-old self, for instance, was still obsessed with William Faulkner, stream of consciousness, sentences that go on for pages without full-stop punctuation and with embedded phrases locked inside other embedded phrases… a lot of that sort of stuff had to go because it would do a disservice to my audience. However, certain moves I see myself making in stories like “Hands” and “Light,” both older, I know I would never make in writing a story now, but they’re moves I would have no problem with another author making. So in preparing this book, I had to learn to draw a line between audience-unfriendly prose that had to go and narrative moves that another me made that deserved to stay.

4. Same stories + different me = easier publication.

One could say that my marvelous present day skills at revision and editing make all the difference. I don’t believe that, though. While some of the stories in Leaping at Thorns had never seen the light of day, I did send a few off to rejections. I eventually stopped submitting stories almost completely, as there’s little money and a lot of time involved in the revolving submissions processes. However, once I had a couple of novels, some good reviews, and a bit of a following, I started sending out some stories again… some of the same stories broadly rejected before… and got picked up immediately. I’m not famous or anything, but I’ve climbed a few rungs. This is just to say to other aspiring writers: if you’ve ever suspected that the quality of your writing is not at issue, rather your market position, you might very well be right.

5. Maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to consider “L. Andrew Cooper” to be a fictional character.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with BlackWyrm Publishing, a small press that lets me publish my grim stories—my novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines—my way. Each of those novels is politically charged, a bit more intellectual than standard horror fare, but chock full of brutal violence and page-turning suspense. With each, though, I felt worried that I had to keep my inner nerd at bay. The novels are, plainly put, less experimental than Leaping at Thorns. The recent short story collection is the biggest risk I’ve taken so far in terms of actually letting my deep nerd side come out and play with the sick son of a bitch side, and in that sense, it’s more who I am, both the past me and the present me, than anything I’ve published. The result is that Leaping at Thorns is simultaneously the sickest and most intellectual work of fiction I’ve published. And so far the reaction seems to be not only that this revelation of me-ness is not only okay but perhaps the best work I’ve ever turned over to the public. So maybe when I’m wearing my horror writer hat, I don’t have to pretend that I’m not also a complete geek for the history of philosophy and virtually every form of art our species has invented. Maybe the sum of the me-s is a viable author figure for the body of work I’m building. So maybe being “L. Andrew Cooper” can be the same thing as being myself—whatever that means.


Author Bio

L. Andrew Cooper thinks the smartest people like horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Early in life, he couldn't handle the scary stuff--he'd sneak and watch horror films and then keep his parents up all night with his nightmares. In the third grade, he finally convinced his parents to let him read grownup horror novels: he started with Stephen King's Firestarter, and by grade five, he was doing book reports on The Stand.

When his parents weren't being kept up late by his nightmares, they worried that his fascination with horror fiction would keep him from experiencing more respectable culture. That all changed when he transitioned from his public high school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia to uber-respectable Harvard University, where he studied English Literature. From there, he went on to get a Ph.D. in English from Princeton, turning his longstanding engagement with horror into a dissertation. The dissertation became the basis for his first book, Gothic Realities (2010). More recently, his obsession with horror movies turned into a book about one of his favorite directors, Dario Argento (2012). He also co-edited the textbook Monsters (2012), an attempt to infect others with the idea that scary things are worth people's serious attention.

After living in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, Andrew now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches at the University of Louisville. Burning the Middle Ground is his debut novel.





"Reading Leaping at Thorns takes me back to my childhood, and those sleepless nights of reading Stephen King’s Night Shift and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Cooper can scare, shock, and more than that, get you to think about things you never considered before, and perhaps, were frightened to even contemplate. A real triumph!" — Michael West, bestselling author of Cinema of Shadows, Spook House, and The Wide Game

"Leaping at Thorns, a new collection of short stories from L. Andrew Cooper, will leave you paranoid! The stories make even the bravest souls cringe in shock and horror. For fans of the genre, this is a rare and fantastic treat, sure to give you gooseflesh and nightmares!" — John F. Allen, author of The God Killers

"Once you start an L. Andrew Cooper story, you can’t stop, even if you have to squint between the fingers of your hand as it covers your face. Here’s a collection of 15 such stories. Modern horror at its best, Enjoy." — R.J. Sullivan, author of Haunting Obsession

"Cooper both frequently and brilliantly focuses on the human element in his tales with the protagonists’ flaws and pains exposed for the reader to vicariously revel in while the darkly delightful antagonists/archfiends of all shapes and sizes often take a back seat in the storylines, which many would argue is the hallmark of great writing. Highly recommended!" — G.L. Giles, author of Water Vamps

"Each story reads like a frightening nightmare from which you don’t want to wake." — Christopher Kokoski, author of Dark Halo

"Cooper’s imagination delves into the bizarre, creating horrific images through windows in our minds to view." — Brick Marlin, author of Land of the Dead


Note: I had the pleasure of getting to know Andrew Cooper two ways, one, he reviewed my TRANSPORT (Book One) short novel for Seventh Star Press, and interviewed me a bit after the fact. Two, I met him at the Imaginarium writers convention in Louisville KY 2014. I had the opportunity to talk to him and sit in on his LEAPING AT THORNS book launch. His publisher, BlackWyrm, gave out all sorts of free goodies at the launch. I even acquired a "tapeworm" as Andrew has a story in the book that involves a tapeworm.

Andrew is a very nice gent, and very talented. I recommend his book. (Plus a book of short stories is always fun because if you don't necessarily enjoy the piece you are reading, there is another one a few pages down.)

PJW Nov 2014